Mariners say non-basketball events would congest SoDo traffic

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Mariners President Chuck Armstrong

SEATTLE - Seattle Mariners officials publicly voiced their opposition to a proposed NBA-NHL arena in the city’s SoDo neighborhood Wednesday, a day after the team first objected to the plan in a letter to Mayor Mike McGinn.

Mariners President Chuck Armstrong said the team wrote to McGinn not because of conflicts of interest with basketball or hockey games, but with all the other events an arena needs to hold in order to be profitable.

“It’s not just the Mariners,” Armstrong said. “The Port of Seattle tells us more traffic congestion would make the port less competitive.”

In a separate letter from the Port, it indicates a SoDo arena could place 10,000 direct jobs at Terminal 46 at risk.

However, as McGinn pointed out, the proposed arena is within the city’s stadium district.

“We have an area we’ve created for stadiums, near light rail, near new highway improvements,” he said.

The Mariners counter that the city hasn’t made all of the road improvements planned when the stadium district was created. The team said it also doubts limiting the number of events at the $400 million arena would work financially

“If you’re going to put this kind of money into a venue and you’re restricted so you can’t hold other events, that you’re doomed from the outset, why would you do it? Why wouldn’t you look at another location?” Armstrong said.

A meeting of the city's arena review panel wrapped up just before 6 p.m. The panel voted to adopt a final report calling the arena proposal promising and favorable, but that many issues remain to be resolved to be sure taxpayers are protected. Panel members acknowledged that taxpayers will likely have to pay for traffic and other mitigation on top of the $200 million for the arena.